For Hicksflicks.com, June 13, 2014

Jack Ryan began his literary life as a CIA operative in Tom Clancy's "The Hunt for Red October," printed in 1984, followed by "Patriot Games" three years later and several subsequent novels.

"The Hunt for Red October" became a highly successful film in 1990, with Alec Baldwin playing Ryan, although his character was overshadowed by Sean Connery's powerful, charismatic performance as a Russian submarine commander.

Then came two more Clancy adaptations, "Patriot Games" (1992) and "Clear and Present Danger" (1994), both starring Harrison Ford as Ryan. A fourth film, also based on a Clancy book, "The Sum of All Fears" (2002), had Ben Affleck taking over the role.

Now we have "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit," which played theatrically earlier this year and is now on DVD and Blu-ray.


Chris Pine, who also stars in another franchise, "Star Trek" (playing Capt. Kirk, the role originated by William Shatner), plays Ryan in this reboot, which takes the character back to his roots and tells a story of how he is recruited by the CIA. It is not, however, based on a Clancy book.

Pine's Ryan is a former Marine officer fighting in Afghanistan when he is injured and undergoes lengthy rehab, meeting and falling in love with a nurse (Keira Knightley). There, he also meets a CIA official (Kevin Costner), and the next thing we know, he's working on Wall Street as a covert CIA operative.

This leads him to possible terrorist transactions, the head of which is a Russian tycoon (Kenneth Branagh, who also directed the film). It also leads him to shootouts and a number of chases, both of the foot and car/motorcycle variety.

"Shadow Recruit" is generally exciting and moves fast, and the cast is appealing. But it's hard not to feel that Ryan's development from Marine to analyst to operative should have been the main story instead of the by-the-numbers good-guys-chasing-bad-guys formula that dominates the action.

Still, it's not a bad start for a "new" franchise. With a stronger script next time that emphasizes character development, a sequel might be a movie to watch for.